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Marine Sciences Division

Microalgal Research

LEAPS Bioreactor

LEAPS Bioreactor

The microalgal research capability focuses on research that improves the economics of microalgal biofuels. Here we screen strains on the basis of biomass productivity under outdoor cultivation.

The following suite of bioreactors and other equipment are used to conduct state-of-the-art microalgae biofuels research:

  • Four indoor LED-lighted and temperature-controlled climate simulation raceway ponds (see separate section below)
  • Outdoor raceway ponds in Arizona.
  • Two custom-designed Laboratory Environmental Algae Pond Simulator (LEAPS) photobioreactor systems that have been successfully validated to replicate the growth performance of microalgae in outdoor ponds at any geographical location and season.
  • A suite of Phenometrics Environmental Photobioreactors (ePBRsTM) that can be used to cultivate microalgae under different light and temperature conditions.
  • Two custom-designed thermal gradient incubators that measure physiological parameters as a function of temperature.
  • A semi-automated microplate incubation system plus Cytation3 BioTek reader to screen microalgal growth as a function of salinity, pH, reactive oxygen concentration, or other parameters.
  • A Hansatech Oxytherm+ system to measure photosynthetic oxygen evolution and dark respiration as a function of light intensity and temperature.
  • Numerous cultivation systems and incubators with adjustable solar spectrum LED lighting and temperature control.
  • New Brunswick Bioflo 3000 fermenter and a suite of INFORS bioreactors.
Thermal Gradient Incubator

Thermal Gradient Incubator

Sample microalgal strains

Sample microalgal strains

INFORS Bioreactor Suite

INFORS Bioreactor Suite

Marine Sciences Laboratory

Research Areas

PNNL Websites



Class-100 Clean Laboratories

Trace Elemental and Chemical Speciation Analytical Capability

Mercury Analytical Laboratory

Organic Chemistry

Biotechnology Laboratories

Microalgal Research

Aquatics Research Laboratories

Hyperbaric Lab

Ice Lab

Oil Lab

Littoral Wave Tank

Biofouling/Biocorrosion Mesocosms

Climate-Simulated Aquaculture Raceway Ponds

Mineral Extraction from Seawater

Chem/Bio Isolation Laboratories

Electromagnetic Field Generators

Electronics/Optics Laboratories

Outdoor Research Platforms

Flow Tank


Experimental Littoral Mesocosms

Wetland Research Sites

Research Vessels

Lidar Buoys

Scientific Dive Team

Littoral RDT&E Center